From Flora to Guia, in the footsteps of Jesus

Marco Carvalho

Starting from 10 am this Friday morning, Flora Garden and Guia Hill saw the re-enactment of the Way of the Cross, a traditional Lenten devotion that depicts the journey of Jesus to Calvary where He was crucified. The initiative, which was organized by the Catholic Lay Association of Macau and takes place every year on Good Friday, attracted a large number of participants. Luís Leong, a former collaborator of the Catholic Lay Association of Macau, was among them.

Leong claims that his personal devotions involving the mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection would not be complete without retracing the steps of Jesus’ Passion and recalling the suffering He took upon himself, through which all human suffering has also achieved the quality of being redemptive. “I usually attend the Good Friday ceremonies in Saint Francis Xavier Chapel in Coloane. But before that, on Friday morning, I always take part in the Way of the Cross that takes place in Flora Garden. There are five Stations of the Cross spread around the Garden and on the way to Guia Hill,” Luís explained. He further added, “This event has been organized every year for over twenty years now, and it is very popular among Chinese Catholics. Sometimes, the bishop joins the participants. It’s a relatively big manifestation of faith. I would say that it is second only to the procession of Our Lady of Fatima and the procession of the Passion of Our Lord. The Way of the Cross was cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it resumed last year, attracting hundreds of participants.”

The preparation for Easter and Holy Week, Leong stressed, should be seen not only as an opportunity for prayer and reflection, but also as an invitation to be attentive to the suffering of others. The conflict, that has been devastating cities and claiming lives in Ukraine, has made the period of Lent much harder to endure.

“During Lent, I must say, I felt very uncomfortable with the invasion that targeted Ukraine. Praying for peace is something I do every day, and I try to exercise self-control over what I drink,” Leong confessed, continuing, “I think it is a good thing that Catholics take part in the ceremonies and rituals of Easter, but without love, without this concern for peace in the world, these celebrations seem a little empty to me. Faith can be a personal thing. It may be the personal relationship that I have with God, but it is also the relationship between God and the world.” An employee at the University of Macau, Leong is confident that the action of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to whom Pope Francis recently consecrated Ukraine and Russia, may bring peace to Eastern Europe.

An active participation in the mysteries of faith

Taking part in the liturgical celebrations that shape the Easter Triduum period, according to Francisco Vizeu Pinheiro, an architect and professor at the University of Saint Joseph, is one of the central aspects of the journey all Catholics should embark on to prepare for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He argued that it is not possible to fully embrace the Paschal mystery without fully embracing the liturgy. “In my opinion, one fundamental aspect is to follow the liturgy that was prepared for this time; it is trying to live the liturgy not only as a spectator, but also as a participant. Every Catholic should take part in these moments as one more character. They shouldn’t be there just to watch, as if it were a movie, but to try to be involved in what is happening,” Pinheiro told O Clarim. “As I see it, it is essential that we remember. And the word “remember,” in its broadest sense, also means to relive. Therefore, we, Catholics, should try to relive the Passion of Christ. We should be Christ’s companions in His Passion, Death and Resurrection,” he added.

An active, attentive and devout participation in this defining moment in the life of the Church, Pinheiro asserted, allows for a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit. An undeniable display of this power will materialize on Saturday night with the Baptism and Confirmation of several new members of God’s flock. He said, “I happen to have two friends who are going to be baptized – one on the weekend and the other one later this year. This is something that gives me great joy because it really shows that the Church is alive. Having this incorporation of new elements into the Church has a lot to do with Easter, with the Passion and Death of Christ.” “When people are brought together through the sacrament of Baptism, they relive the Passion of Christ, they are incorporated through the sacrament of Baptism. Baptism is, in my opinion, an important part of Saturday night’s Easter Vigil ceremonies,” Pinheiro concluded.

Holy Week and the Easter Triduum are largely synonymous with reflection, a time that invites spiritual self-examination, said Danilo Perez Ngo, a civil engineer who was born in the Philippines.

Participation in the ceremonies and rituals of Holy Week help to strengthen faith, but only a true conversion, aligned with the suffering of Jesus Christ, opens the door to a full experience of the Paschal mystery, Ngo told O Clarim.

He further stated, “Holy Week and Easter are very important for me and for my family. We usually fast on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.To take part in the ceremonies, Holy Mass and other such obligations it is not enough if our hearts are not aligned with the idea of ​​conversion and if we do not unite with the suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior. The conversion process is an ongoing process. In my case, I made a commitment to attend Mass every day, to go to confession every week, to read the Gospels and conduct other spiritual readings.”